SEATTLE – June 10, 2014 – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has appointed Scott Ramsey, M.D., Ph.D., a health economist at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, to serve on a new Performance Measures Committee. The 29-member panel is charged with recommending standard statewide measures of health performance by 2015. The panel will propose benchmarks to track costs and improvements in health outcomes among state residents.
“As individuals, families, businesses and government, we all invest significant resources in health care,” Inslee said in a statement announcing the committee members. “We can do more to make sure we’re working together with the private sector and incentivizing good care and efficiency.”
Ramsey directs the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research, or HICOR, an initiative unique among U.S. cancer centers that bridges research and clinical practice to develop strategies for improving the quality of cancer patient care while bringing down the costs. Both an internist and health economist, Ramsey has published widely on patterns of care, costs and cost-effectiveness of treatments for a variety of cancers.
“I’m honored to be appointed to the committee. Participating in this important undertaking complements our efforts to engage payers and providers across the state to work collaboratively in developing ways to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes,” said Ramsey, a member of the Public Health Sciences Division at the Hutch and professor of medicine at the University of Washington, where he formerly served as director of clinical economics for UW’s Center for Cost and Outcomes Research.
Ramsey’s leadership at the national level includes serving on the Institute of Medicine’s National Cancer Policy Forum. He is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and a fellow in the American College of Physicians. He is also past president of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, a health-economics society with more than 13,000 members worldwide.
Global spending on cancer drugs is closing in on $100 billion, up from $71 billion in 2008; Ramsey and colleagues assert that the ever-rising cost of cancer care is making it “financially toxic” to patients. His research has found that people diagnosed with cancer are two-and-a-half times more likely to declare bankruptcy than those without cancer, and he estimates that up to 40 percent of cancer patients experience some form of financial toxicity.
The Performance Measures Committee was created as a requirement of House Bill 2572, legislation calling for transformation of the state’s health care delivery system. The committee includes representatives from health research, medicine, behavioral health, insurance plans, health care practices and specialties, consumer groups and minority populations, among others. The committee will meet three times before concluding its work in December.
Editor’s note: A photo of Ramsey is available upon request.